A Cross River child that was born the year Donald Duke became governor in 1999, would have been 8 years old when Donald left office in 2007 and will be 20 years old, this year 2019.
If that person is 30 years old today, he or she was only 10 years old when Donald Duke became governor in 1999 and 18years old when he was handing over in 2007. Even people who are 35 years today, barely knew anything in-depth about the Duke governorship in particular, other than flashing teenage memories. You should be at least 37-40 years and above today, to have been able to keep up with events during the Donald Duke governorship.
In actuality, most of the young people under 30 on social media shouting Don Duke, Don Duke, don’t really know or understand what they are saying.
Like elsewhere, most of Duke’s generation of governors (1999-2007), got away with so many things that their colleagues cannot try nowadays. Governments, both at the national and sub national levels were in absolute control of the tools of information generation and dissemination. Government alone had the means to determine what the people hear or even say in the mass media.
When Governor Imoke took over in 2007, the new media was just growing it’s teeth and even places like Lagos and Abuja and many European capitals, new media was still a novelty, used at best, to connect a few lost friends. Facebook started in the US in 2004. Twitter started 2 years after that, in 2006 while Instagram started in 2010. It was until around 2010 that all these tools began to make their foray into politics and today the world’s most powerful office, the Oval office, is run from Twitter.
And as we progressed into the second term of the next set of governors (2011 – 2015), youngsters across the country began to find their voices by using these social media tools to mobilize for political action. Cross River state was not an exclusion. From Imoke’s second term, new media began to weaken the hold that the state-owned CRBC and Chronicle, had on the people. Citizens began to find direct ways of rating their government and holding them accountable. Not only that, unlike in the past, the new media has an intelligence that achives all these and make them generally accessible in real time.
While Governor Duke ran the state in near obscurity, devoid of the deafening distractions of the new media, Governor Imoke’s second term faced more scrutiny than his first, and you have come at the middle of the light beams. A lot has changed about the people you lead. You must be conscious of that, Your Excellency. We are keeping records more attentively and we will judge you not by your good intentions but by what you are eventually able to get done, seal and deliver to us as history.
Today Duke is remembered by the Carnival, Green and Clean Calabar, the failed Tinapa project and the Obudu Ranch Resort.
Imoke is fondly remembered for the rural access roads, Calabar International Conference Center, Airport by-pass.
Even now that you are still governor, once your name comes up, what pops up is the Ayade Super Highway and Deep seaport. These are 1.3 trillion Naira signature projects which you announced with so much verve and panache, that haven’t gone anywhere. Even your mini-super highway in northern Cross River is still not completed. There is still “poto-poto” on very long stretches of the road and users complain that the completed sections are bumpy and not smooth. You may not feel all that when you drive through in your Range Rover and exotic convoy and your aides will certainly not tell you the truth. At the last count, Your Excellency has at least, 30 ongoing projects in all the 18 LGAs, none of which has been fully delivered and making profit. Even the tooth pick factory in Ekori has no product in the market yet. The garment factory workers are still being paid from government coffers.
Then again, unless there is a clear cut management model that extricates government control from those companies you are building at the Ayade Industrial Park, all those gigantic constructions will only become monuments once you leave office. Your successor will not continue to pay workers at the garment factory and rice city from government purse when those places are not generating profit. Those doors will be shut and those places will become moribund, if they don’t break even before you leave office.
Your Excellency, try the much you can; however you can, to not let your attention waver from the Super Highway. That is what you will be judged by. We will replay your highfalutin voice on May 29, 2015 over and over again. You will hear yourself in your car after you have left office, how your energetic voice announced to anxious Cross Riverians and the world that you will ensure you cut travel time between Calabar and Obudu. You will bow your head in utter trepidation should you fail that voice now. Try not to listen to that voice that is urging you to add more multi billion Naira projects to the plethora on your table. All those clapping and urging you on today and leading the “he is our brother” choir, will be the first to form:
“Hope For CRS 2023”
“Rescue Cross River 2023”
“Reclaim Cross River 2023.”
Campaign groups for 2023 aspirants.
You don’t need a new airport in Obudu. We don’t need a new airport in Obudu. Please don’t create the recipe for communal wars in the near future. We are already grappling with alot of gangsterism in Obudu under your rule Sir.
Rather, we need local government elections and a listening governor.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.
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